Bike Friday Tikit mini-report

My Bike Friday Tikit arrived last week. I found it at my house around 5:15pm and had it unpacked and ready to ride by 5:30. The bike unpacks really fast and I enjoyed my first ride on it (with a few component exceptions).

Over the weekend I converted it to drop bars and made a front porteur rack for it. I made the following changes:

  • Changed from flat bars to drop bars
  • Installed adapters to make the V-brakes work with drop bar levers. I’ll probably change the levers to Diacompe 287-V sometime in the future…I really don’t like V-brake adapters.
  • Swapped the 175mm crank arms for 170mm ones.
  • Changed the cassette from an 11-28 to an 11-34. This also required swapping the rear derailleur to handle the larger cogs. When the SRAM i9 hub is available I expect to switch to that.
  • Installed my favorite saddle and pedals.

The front rack was a little tricky to make. I wanted to make it pack easily and didn’t want it to interfere with the fold.I originally made the rack platform a little large and had to remove about 1cm from the left to clear the front tire. When the bike is folded the saddle rests inside the rack. I don’t think that this will be my final design, I want to experiment with a triangular rack platform to reduce the size and eliminate any chances of saddle interference. This design does work for now and my first couple of trips.

I took the bike for a test ride today and it rides pretty well.There is a little bit of play in the stem hinge, but I expect that I can adjust that out. The rest of the frame seems to be very stout.

The fold on this bike is amazing. With a little practice (it took me about 5 tries to get the hang out of it) it folds down in a few seconds. My first attempt was not pretty and took significantly longer (but Josh and Cam probably got a laugh out of it). Once folded everything is secured nicely by a single latch and there are no traditional quick releases. My front rack and the drop bars make it a little wider than a stock Tikit, but it is still reasonably small. The fold protects the drivetrain (and keeps the greasy chain away packed away in the middle). More importantly it doesn’t put the handlebars in the middle which makes converting to drop bars possible. This is not true of many folders by Downtube and Dahon.

It packed into the suitcase quickly. This was my first attempt at packing it and I had to figure out a new packing method to work with the drop bars, but it still packed more quickly than my old New World Tourist. I had to loosen six bolts: seatpost, stem riser, pedals, front fender, and handlebar clamp. The stock handlebars don’t even require you to loosen the handlebar clamp. It’s a big change from my New World Tourist where I remove the handlebars, saddle, derailleurs, left crank,and pedals.

I think it’ll be a winner.

If you want more details on the Tikit I recommend reading the review by The Folding Society.

It’s hard to find details on the components on the stock Tikit. I expect that they are still figuring out the best component list. Here is what my bike came with:

  • Flat handlebars with SRAMMRX Gripshift,Tektro V-brake levers, foam grips, and a bell.
  • Microshift rear derailleur. I have no experience with this companies components, but it seems to be okay (it’s better built than the plastic Shimano Sora rear derailleur)
  • Tektro V-brakes. I’ve had some problems with the return spring popping off of the spring tension screw. When I go to the SRAM i9 I expect to use a hub brake in the rear and better V-brakes up front.
  • The wheels have Joytech hubs, un-branded rims, and 24 spokes. The front hub is narrower than a normal hub. The stock cassette is made by SRAM, 8sp, and 11-28.
  • The headset is made by Diacompe and appears to be 1 1/8″ threadless. I haven’t pulled apart the front end to figure out exactly how their steerer and headset arrangement works.
  • The tires are Schwable Marathon. These tires can ride a little rough, but are a pretty good choice for a utility oriented bike.
  • The saddle is a pretty typical plastic/gel saddle. I actually found this to be more comfortable than I expected.
  • The crankset is a generic 130mm BCD crank. The large Tikit comes with 175mm crank arms. The chainring has 53 or 54t and there is a matching chainguard ring. The bottom bracket is a generic cartridge bottom bracket.
  • The seatpost is a Kalloy Uno.
  • Planet Bike Fenders. The rear one has a custom stay that allows the bike to stand on the fender when folded.

When I first saw a Tikit I was a little underwhelmed by the component spec, but upon riding the bike I realized that it really wasn’t too bad. The spent money on some of the most important parts such as tires. I think the first model really should have used an internal gear hub, but the derailleur setup does work pretty well.


  1. Alberto says:

    Nice write up on a very nice bike. Was the conversion to drop bars difficult (I”m a newbie) and can it be done on any hybrid-type bike? Perhaps some day you could do a little project on that type of conversion. Noticed you changed saddle and pedals. To which ones and why? Thanks. (Very nice blog, by the way!)

  2. NoHo says:

    Very interesting Alex. I”ve been browsing folders for a while and was wondering myself why they don”t come with internal geared hubs. Seems natural for a folding bike. Is the internal gearing *that* inefficient, or do you suppose it might just be industry prejudice? Or maybe it’’s an issue with appropriate gear ratios?

    I had a custom Xoom Swift quoted recently and substituting a Nexus hub was considerably more money than the stock derailleur setup…

  3. AlexWetmore says:

    I think the biggest reason for using derailleurs instead of internal gear hubs on the folders is cost. It would probably cost an additional $200 or so to sell the Tikit with an internal gear hub. The Tikit is also fairly expensive (compared to the Chinese import competition). Just a guess though.

    Internal gearing isn”t that inefficient. My best bike has a Rohloff hub and I”ve ridden the Nexus 8 (red-band) and SRAM S7 hubs extensively.

  4. christian says:

    hey Alex,

    any new observations now that you”ve had the bike a little while? I”m especially interested in the little bit of play in the stem which you mentioned. I”m thinking of trading in my BF pocket rocket for a Tikit (their trade in program is pretty fair), since only a real folder is going to be useful to me these days.

  5. AlexWetmore says:

    Look for a followup on the Tikit soon.

  6. Don Gillies says:

    Alex, how does the bike stay secure when it’’s unfolded? If it has no latches, is there a chance of accidental folding while you are riding, or if you”re leaning on the frame in strange and unusual ways (for example, if you”re riding it like a trick bicycle ??)

  7. AlexWetmore says:

    The back of the seat mast latches into the top of the rear triangle. This is secure, you can lift up the bike and nothing starts to fold. When riding that latch isn”t under load, your weight on the saddle and the upwards force from the rear wheel keep everything secure.

    To fold the first step is to push the seat last forward firmly. This will disengage that latch and let the rear triangle fold under. Then you can fold the stem and seat mast.

  8. John says:

    Alex… do you think a person could actually do some multi-day touring on a Tikit?

    I live in Missouri and would do the KTY trail across the state of Missouri. Tikit handle that?

  9. AlexWetmore says:

    I think it could if you went with a light load. Most racks are going to interfere with the fast folding.

    I doubt that I”d take the Tikit on a week long or longer tour, but I expect to use it for some overnight tours. I can fit a lightweight camping load (sleeping bag, hammock, change of clothes, stove, food) into a messenger bag and carry it on the front of the bike. If I need anything more I can use a saddlebag.

    I don”t notice a big difference in the performance of a Bike Friday NWT (which many people have toured on) and my Tikit.

  10. Glen Nison says:

    if you wanted to carry a more substantial load for touring you could get the Bike Friday trailer (you need the separate axle hitch as well) with the suitcase (or a Burley trailer, etc). I have a Bike Friday NWT and it works very well with the BF trailer.

  11. Chris says:

    Thanks for measuring cable pull on the internal hub shifters from Shimano and SRAM. Priceless info! nice bike as well.